Friday, July 26, 2013

Home Sweet Iowa

[Music while you read? Scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the YouTube link!]

I’m taking a little Ohio break to conjure up images of my home state – Iowa.  All those Ohio pioneers, or their descendants, left Ohio in their ox and horse drawn covered wagons for the promise of free and fertile fields when Iowa territory was opened up for settlement.  Some of them stayed a while in Indiana; I can see lovely Quaker farms a la Friendly Persuasion. For my direct line the siren call of Iowa, on the other side the Mississippi River (not a small obstacle), could not be resisted. One or two of our abolitionist families trekked on to Kansas to fight the good fight for a free state, but most liked what they saw in northeastern Iowa.

About a week ago I was up in the wee hours working on Ohio when a sidebar ad caught my eye. It offered a free Iowa travel guide. Well, I’ve wanted to go to Iowa ever since I retired in 2010 and haven’t made it yet – so a travel guide, I said to myself, might be just the thing and I signed up. This morning I was working on Ohio as usual, heard a ‘thunk’ and Beatrice scurried off to see what the mailman left us. I love getting mail – the convenience and speed of the Internet not withstanding – it is great to get real mail.  I don’t like junk mail any more than you do and I dispatch it immediately and don’t let it stack up.  But, mail – a card or note from a friend or family member – a real treasure.  And, something I’ve ordered – well, hooray!  We have the most quaint and wonderful mail delivery system in our 1960’s quaint houses – my mail comes through a slot in the kitchen wall and lands (mostly) in a basket on my vintage aqua kitchen counter.  Today the ‘thunk’ was that Iowa Travel Guide. And, it is a beauty.
Anyone who is going near Iowa anytime soon – I highly recommend ordering one. I also received a very good Iowa map.  Not excited yet – check this out:   I hope my children and grandchildren each order one to see where Mom/Gram was born.  To one daughter and her children a special reminder as she was born there and is a 6th generation Iowan.  Wouldn't it be fun to plan an Iowa family reunion.
Looking at the guide I might have to plan a 3 year trip to see it all.  Can’t do that, but I would love to hit the highlights.  When I was about 8 years old my folks took me on just such a trip.  I remember the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend and the Bily Clock Museum. Maybe Grandpa Disney can remember more. I also remember well Ledges State Park, the Amana Colonies, the Pella tulip festival, Lake Okoboji, Storm Lake, the Sergeant Floyd Monument, water-skiing and fishing on the M-i-ss-i-ss-i-pp-i.
Summer vacation with my grandparents was -- well, Guttenberg was heaven to me.
Guttenberg on the Mississippi
Photo: Iowa Tourism Office

It was a good life and I couldn’t wait to leave.  I had places to go and things to do; and like Ellen Raskin’s children’s story “Nothing Ever Happens On My Block” I didn’t see anything exciting happening in Iowa.  Thomas Wolfe wrote that you can’t go home.  But, ya’ll know I’m a Bon Jovi fan and the song says – “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”  


I’m ready for that visit.

YouTube - Bon Jovi & Sugarland - Who says you can't go home (live) - drycountytrade0tk

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Are You From?

Perspectives change over the decades, and so it would follow that they change even more over the centuries. Today the United States of America looms large in our loyalties and fills our vision of who we are and puts the emphasis on UNITED and AMERICA – we are Americans, then Californians or Ohioans. In an earlier time, for instance 1800-1850 the title might look like this -  the United STATES of America.  The state where our ancestors lived loomed large on their horizon. Back then when Obediah Meredith,  traveled to Washington D.C. (not that he did, we’re imaging here), and was asked where he was from he would respond with Ohio. He might even give his town or village – “I’m from New Castle, Ohio. And, then he might add – “That’s back in Coshocton County.”

For back then, if you lived in the great state of Ohio or Pennsylvania the county you resided in stood next to the state in your loyalties.  Today, come to think of it, I often refer to my home as San Diego County, but that is the exception of a large metropolitan area.  On average, if you are from Orlando, your response would not be – I’m from Orange County.  If you are from Des Moines it is likely that you’ll never mention that you are a Polk Countian (there is such a word but spell check doesn’t even recognize it).  I wonder how many people, a great number probably, would assume that Des Moines is in Des Moines County in Iowa.  There is a Des Moines County but the City of Des Moines is in Polk County, named after a rather lack-luster president, James K. Polk.

$1 Coin, Wikipedia
In Ohio from 1800-1850 it was the time of county formations, town and village building, and the fight over which of those towns was to be the county seat.   The county often stood beside the state in a farmer’s loyalties. They had a hand in clearing and farming the land. The county was the next tier up for the grass roots and held an important place in their everyday lives.  They were from Coshocton, Brown, or Miami County, by golly.   

It is only right that we turn our attention to the counties these hardy pioneers helped to establish. Here are the counties where our families were ‘first families’ and pioneers: 

Ashland, Belmont, Brown, Clermont, Coshocton, Darke, Erie, Franklin, Hamilton, Harrison, Miami, Muskingum, Scioto, Shelby, Warren, and Washington.  Last night, with our ever growing project, I added another – Wyandot.
Ashland County Ohio, Wikipedia
Our families helped pioneer 17 of the 88 counties in Ohio. That is huge! County governments, not first to come to mind today, were extremely important to the pioneers as was the County Seat, where they often built imposing courthouses.  There are exceptions to this rule – but the towns that became county seats most often rose like cream in a bottle of milk to the top – becoming the largest and most prosperous town in the county. (As I write this I realize that the majority of readers have never seen an un-homogenized bottle of whole milk with the cream sitting on the top – the layer that is ‘skimmed’ off for your non-fat milk.)

Last night I worked on the structure of the book a bit more – setting up County History pages and grouping the families with their respective counties.  In some cases families lived in more than one and are represented with the county in which they spent the most time. The county page (so far) includes a brief history, the flag and description, pertinent URLs – and most importantly – a map showing where the county is located within the state of Ohio.  Ohio County flags are often quirky and sometimes beautiful. Often they are designed by contest winners, school children, old folks home residents – in short it is ‘the people’ who proudly create and fly the county flags.
Ashland County Townships - Wikipedia

But, beyond that our pioneers were very aware of a county division that is simply not a part of our consciousness in 2013 – the township. Unless you are making a rural land purchase there is no reason for us to consider townships.  But, back when a county was first established it was divided into townships (at least in the homesteading states) and that township was important to the pioneer farmers who settled there. Townships are important to family researchers in the field when you want to track down the farm that great grandpa owned.  If I know that John Cullins lived in Ohio that narrows it down a bit and lets me trim off the other 49 states. That I know he lived in Muskingum County is most helpful as I can go to the county court house in the county seat of Zanesville to begin my search.  But, if I know that he farmed in Washington Township within Muskingum County this makes my search much easier and Google maps can show me the way.  Today the Zanesville Courthouse is only 3.2 miles down the Adamsville Road from the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department. The township is a very good thing to know and will save you hours of tracking through the ‘wilds’ of Muskingum County.

Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dreaming of Apples

I had a dream – not in the Martin Luther King, Jr sense of the word – more in the Freudian way – last night . . . about flying.  It was complicated – inside the huge craft – sort of a combo airliner and space craft – was a corporate world. I’ve recently watch the 1st season (thank you Netflix) of the Sci-Fi TV series Continuum. In that craft there was a busy business world of employees – some thriving and a few about ready for the ax – I was trying to encourage the stragglers while enjoying the overall ambience of success -- I was (possibly?) a guardian angel. At one point I had a pleasurable ride outside the plane on the wing – but by the end of the dream I was admiring the beautiful apples they had grown – not on trees – but squat apple bushes that could be grown in the craft.

How does all of this relate to genealogy? I believe it was all about genealogy.  Hmm, what family was I working on last night? Since I’d covered given names, it was time to look at the meaning and origins of surnames. One of my most favorite of our surnames is – can you guess? There’s a clue in my dream.  Yes . . . it’s Apple. Isn’t that a sunny, wonderful name?

Back before I knew there were Apple’s in our family there was a feel-good television series, dubbed a dramedy, called Apple’s Way.  It was the creation of Earl Hamner, Jr. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, possibly you’d recognize his vastly popular series, The Walton’s. Apple’s Way was on the tube in 1974-75.  Ronnie Cox starred as George Apple – and maybe this is why I liked it – it was about a family tired of the city (Los Angeles) who moved back to their roots in Appleton, Iowa.  How can I fault anyone for doing that? Of course, I’m in San Diego and you don’t see me beating a retreat to my snowy home state of Iowa – but, I’d sure like to have the money to buy the old ‘Shaffer’s Ranch’ for a family vacation home – so maybe I’m more like George Apple than I thought.
Eventually, I was thrilled to find Apple’s hanging on our family tree. Here is the meaning given the surname Apple/Appel/Apfel courtesy of

Apple Name Meaning

English: from Middle English appel ‘apple’ (Old English æppel), acquired as a surname in any of various senses: a topographic name for someone living by an apple orchard; an occupational name for a grower or seller of apples; or a nickname for someone supposed to resemble an apple in some way, e.g. in having bright red cheeks. The economic importance in medieval northern Europe of apples, as a fruit that could be grown in a cold climate and would keep for use throughout the winter, is hard to appreciate in these days of rapid transportation and year-round availability of fruits of all kind. Americanized form of Appel or Apfel.

When I Googled the meaning of surnames they sent me to a great feature of  Hey, I just Googled again and they started the page with the meaning of the word surname, so if you don’t know, here goes thanks to Google:

Surname -  sur·name

A hereditary name common to all members of a family, as distinct from a given name.

The surname meaning is only one feature of this cool page.  Ancestry gathers what they know about a family (in a general sense) and presents here.  For the name ‘Apple’ they offer a search box to look for specific Apple’s; and tell you that there are 208,896 Historical Documents and Family Trees with Apple on (these are broken down by category). Next there is a U.S. map explaining the value of census records. This is a 1920 map showing the numbers of Apple’s in each state. The largest by far are Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Now doesn’t that sounds like apple territory?  The Apple’s were early Ohio pioneers, of course, or they wouldn’t be part of this project.

 Next on ancestry’s Apple page are six categories with pull-down windows.

 #1 is “Apple Family Origin” – without repeating all of the information I’ll tell you that the vast majority originally came from Germany.

#2 is “Apple Immigration Information” -- this chart often doesn’t serve our families as it reflects immigration from 1851 to 1889.  Most of our families came in much earlier.  However, there is a link to look at ‘all Apple immigration records’ if you care to sort through them.

#3 is “Average Life Expectancy for Apple” – these records are from the Social Security. The chart shows that the life expectancy in 1940 was 31.  You may wonder why so young?  All of the family records start very low, so I’m thinking it has more to do with the number of people registered for SS at that early date. The first SS card was issued in 1936. In 2001 the life expectancy was 77. That’s pretty good for an apple, wouldn’t you say? It is no doubt, higher now.

#4 is “Apple Family Occupations” – These are very general categories taken from the census records. There may be 5 doctors, and 3 lawyers but they won’t show up – this shows the large categories and whether or not they exceeded the general population in a particular occupation such as farming.  I dare say that all our family names, in their example of 1880, come up with farming at the top of the occupation list. So . . . The percentage of the larger population involved in farming in 1880 was 35% but 46% of all Apple’s were farming.

#5 is “Apple Civil War Service Records” - There were 268 records in total. In a brother against brother war – there were 92 Confederate soldiers and 176 Union soldiers.

# 6 is a link that brings up the Apple Message Board – a useful tool in looking for your Apple’s who have fallen off the tree.  You are not in this alone, there are others out there looking for Apple’s and they might know something about yours. 

 At the bottom of the page is another search box to look up another surname, so that you can use this useful page for every name on your tree.  Can you tell I’m an fan?  I am, and they keep getting better all the time.

 Here are 2 other interesting names on our family tree:

 Walker Name Meaning

English (especially Yorkshire) and Scottish: occupational name for a fuller, Middle English walkere, Old English wealcere, an agent derivative of wealcan ‘to walk, tread’. This was the regular term for the occupation during the Middle Ages in western and northern England. Compare Fuller and Tucker. PWH As a Scottish surname it has also been used as a translation of Gaelic Mac an Fhucadair ‘son of the fuller’

 (Not only do we have Walker’s on our tree – my granddaughter is marrying a Walker next month!)

 Rowland Name Meaning

English: from Rol(l)ant, a Norman personal name composed of the Germanic elements hrod ‘renown’ + land ‘land’, ‘territory’ (or + -nand ‘bold’, assimilated to -lant ‘land’). This was popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages as a result of the fame of Charlemagne’s warrior of this name, who was killed at Roncesvalles in ad 778.English: habitational name from places in Derbyshire and Sussex, so named from Old Norse rá ‘roebuck’ + lundr ‘wood’, ‘grove’.Variant of German and French Roland.

Have fun researching your names!

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's In A Name?

The Christmas project involves our great grandparents during the period from 1800 to 1850. That is a fairly narrow range of time but still involves a large number of greats – they keep multiplying exponentially.  I have a fascination with names – what they mean, where they came from, etc. Names, it seems, have always been faddy.  After making-up boys and girl lists I find that most popular by far is – ta da – John.
Of the thirty men I’m working on for the project – 1/3 – yes, 10 of the men are named John. What’s with that?  In modern times I can only think of one John in the entire family and that was my 1st cousin – and he was called ‘Jackie’ when I knew him as a child. 

Jack, for some reason, is the nickname for John. Why? I Googled it and came up with an interesting little article explaining why John is Jack and 9 other names with nicknames that seem unrelated, such as Richard and Dick.  Check it out at with that puzzle solved, I’m wondering why so many things are called John and some of them derogatory?
A bathroom or toilet is called a john – as in “I’m going to the john.”  (Answer here: )  Why are prostitute’s customers called John? Well, maybe that answers itself – if John is the most popular name for the time, then it would follow that more customers are called John!  And, why ‘John’ Doe, ‘John’ Q Public, etc. – check it out:

John must have been super popular between 1800 and 1850. Coming in second on our family list is Samuel with three.  During this period the vast majority of our population was church going; and often they named their children after people in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
They hoped that their sweet little baby bundle would grow up to emulate their namesake. Well, in some cases this may be true, but by 1800 it is most likely to have been in the family for generations, picked by a distant ancestor for that reason and then it became part of the family naming tradition.  

Here are the other Biblical names for our group of ancestors.  Beside John and Samuel there are two each of Peter, Joseph, and Isaiah.  We have one each of Andrew, Aquilla (or Aquila), Isaac, Obediah (or Obadiah), and Stephen. Chances are the non-Biblical names were popular in the middle ages. We have one each of: Anson, George, Henry, and Robert. 

I haven’t really addressed middle names.  We don’t know all of them, and many may not have had one. Using middle names for people other than nobility is a fairly recent tradition. With the growth of the population it became more important to be able to distinguish which John you meant – therefore, we have John Henry, and John Phillip, Mary Ann and Mary Jane.

What is the most popular female name of our greats from 1800-1850 – Elizabeth (3). This name was also from the Bible and sometimes spelled Elisabeth.  It has a huge number of variations and nicknames. Without taking an official count of our entire family tree for all ages I would say that our most popular names for all time are: Elizabeth, Isabel, and Margaret.  I found this surprising – and I love them. My maternal grandmother was Margaret. I’ve now done enough of her family tree to see who she might have been named after.  My mother’s middle name was Margaret after her mother.  Had I known our family history naming tradition when I had daughters I might have named them these rather royal names.  Hm – which one would get Elizabeth. . .?

Other Biblical names for the women: Susannah, Anna (or Ann), and Mary with 2 each, followed by Esther, Sarah, Mary Ann, and Dorcas with one each. Parents may have been more willing to give their daughters the current or popular names of the time.  Those with non-Biblical names with one each are: Eunice, Amanda, Alvira, Tacy, Jane, Nancy, Christina, Easter (possibly a misspelled Esther), Ellen, and Jean. Which brings us back to John, as Jean is the French version of the male name John.

I’ve looked up the meaning for each name and hope to include them in my book. I’m encouraged, I’m making progress!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Desperately Seeking Amanda

There aren’t many people named Amanda from the early 1800s so how hard can it be? How could a woman have lived, married, produced six children who survived childhood, moved lock, stock, and barrel from Ohio to Iowa, and no record of her family connection anywhere except her tombstone.

William C Cullins
Who knows, maybe she was christened with another name and affectionately called Amanda by her husband, William Cullins.  Or, maybe she said to him, “If you can be  Bill don’t call me MayBell. I want to be Amanda.”  Whatever the case, she is my 2nd great grandmother and I’m trying to link her to the many Cordray/Cordrey/Cordry families from Ohio.

My great grandmother, Hannah Cullins, told my grandmother that her mother Amanda’s family was haunted by tragedy and bad luck. Their home was lost in a fire where all family goods and records were turned to ashes. Worse than that, it may be that Amanda and her siblings were orphaned in that fire – losing one or both of their parents.  This is where my memory gets fuzzy as I’m not sure if the parents were lost or just the things. Still there must be a record somewhere of this fire, or a Cordray family with a daughter named Amanda before that fire.

I love census records. They are a tremendous help to genealogists. The old ones are riddled with inaccuracies, but still give us so much information that would have otherwise have been lost – especially after 1850. Why after 1850 you may ask?  The census records prior to 1850 only named the head of household and numbered the rest living in that household. So much information is missing because wives and children weren’t deemed important enough to name. I don’t know who or what created the change, but bless them! From 1850 on all members of the household are named, including servants or anyone living with the family.
Amanda was born in 1834, so the 1840 census doesn’t show which family she is in. She doesn’t show up in the 1850 census. She was 16 and could have been helping out at a neighboring farm and listed with them or married. In 1850 William Cullins, who was older than Amanda, was still living with his parents and siblings. By 1860 both William and his brother John have moved their families to Fayette County, Iowa. Their mother, Dorcas Meredith Cullins, also moved to Iowa. Here's the kicker - I can find a marriage license for William Cullins and Mary Jane O'Neil on 31 Oct 1854. Who is this? Did Mary Jane assume the name Amanda when she arrived in Iowa? Did William marry Mary Jane and then run off with Amanda? Did my grandmother get her surname wrong, when she seemed so sure of it.  Was Amanda Cordray her 'real' name and after the fire was she taken in by the O'Neil family and given a new name - and, once married and on her own took back her old name? She is a mystery.
Amanda is with the Cullins in Iowa, of course, but who are her people?  William and Amanda named a son George W and there is a George Washington Cordray who would have been of her father’s
age. Is George W Cullins named after her father?  To further the Cordray research I’ve temporarily connected Amanda and George Washington Cordray as father and daughter, but this is only an assumption on my part.

In between running out to see fireworks displays, assuring my dog, Beatrice, that the world wasn’t coming to an end – oh, and in the end she actually watched the sparkly things in the sky – I searched the census for every possible family for a child named Amanda. These days you can find Amanda Cordray on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter (but not my Amanda - wrong century) and I've plastered her name on genealogy message boards – AMANDA b. abt 1834 WHERE ARE YOU!!!